Following the beating of a 6 lb. puppy, experts weigh in on abuse prevention

WASHINGTON– A southeast Washington woman was arrested on November 17 for beating her 6-pound Yorkshire Terrier puppy named “Roxie,” and failing to provide the dog with necessary medical care.

The Washington Humane Society was first alerted to the abuse on Oct. 28. When found, the dog was barely able to move. “Thanks to the heroic efforts of her medical team, she is now on her way to making a full recovery,” according to a statement by the humane society. Police identified her owner as Kristina Washington of Savannah Terrace.

In recent years, violence against animals has been seen in the same light as violence against humans. WTOP spoke with Dr. Katy Nelson, the executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy Nelson,” about signs of animal abuse and how to report them.

WTOP: Caseworkers investigating animals are now digging even deeper into assaults because there are some tendencies we see in animal abusers that go deeper than even the animals.

KN: It used to be “Oh, boys will be boys” or “it was just a cat or just a frog,” or whatever they start on. But now we know that there is a 100 percent link with animal abuse to child abuse, to elder abuse, to domestic abuse and other crimes. So animal abuse is basically sort of a starting point in a lot of situations and there’s tons of research to back this. There’s actually a great non-profit organization called the National Link Coalition that there’s a lot of information on their website about this as well. It is sort of a gateway crime, if you will. The lady who was arrested here in D.C., she had a felony in her past as well. So it happens, this is not just something where it’s “oh, it’s just a dog.” It takes a very demented heart and mind to be able to what this lady did to this dog over a year’s time.

WTOP: And that’s one of the reasons why you have to step in immediately when you see kids doing something cruel to animals and laughing about it.

KN: Absolutely. There’s a pattern to this. Children who were exposed to animal abuse tend to get desensitized to it, and it becomes what they see as the norm. Children who grow up in dog-fighting environments and things like this. It becomes the norm to them and when this is something that doesn’t register in your brain as something that is horrific and terrible and shouldn’t be happening, then there’s a problem there. These are innocent creatures. This dog this week was a six and a half pound dog that had 11 spinal fractures and many other fractures, all in different states of healing. So this had been going on for a long time. Washington Humane Society got a report, they went out and investigated it, and they made the arrest. But it takes that report, first and foremost, for that to happen.

WTOP: what is the step that someone should take if they suspect there is animal abuse going on around them?

KN: Let me point out it’s not just abuse, it’s not just beating a dog or a cat, neglect is considered every bit as much abuse as well. So if you’re seeing this, contact your local animal control agency. In the District of Columbia it’s the Washington Humane Society. In your county, just look it up. Call animal control and make the report, because if you don’t say something then no one can know this is happening and it’s going to continue to happen.

WTOP: Are animal abuse laws on the books right now tough enough to be a deterrent?

KN: Absolutely not. For the most part, most people that are convicted of animal abuse don’t even serve time. There are fines, you can get restricted from having pets for a couple of years, but for the most part most people don’t even serve time and at most they might get six months if it’s egregious abuse. This is something that the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and lots of other organizations are working really hard on to change this. And we’ve got an entire show about it this week on “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy Nelson” on News Channel 8. We have a man named Steffen Baldwin, who came in from Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, we have a former MMA fighter named Gordon Shell, we have a Baltimore police officer on the show, Kelly Steinhorn, we have Washington Humane Society talking about this as well. We really try to get in-depth with this and define this link, because there really is so much more to it than just “he kicked his puppy because it peed on the floor.” There’s a lot more to it.

The costs for Roxie’s care are expected to “rise significantly,” according to the humane society. Those interested in helping to offset the expenses are encouraged to donate to WHS’ Sophie’s Fund by visiting

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